In the world of managed services, the path an office technology dealership takes during the ramping up process can often be marked with potholes. From staffing and contract considerations to process implementation, challenges can arise beyond the core competencies required to embark on a managed service offering.
Casey Lowery, director of sales for Applied Imaging of Grand Rapids, MI, notes that the rapid growth his company has experienced in the last three and a half years put pressure on the various service processes, prompting adjustments to meet their demands. He points out there were clients Applied Imaging brought on early in the sales process that were probably not ideal fits for the dealer’s service model.
“Balancing staffing needs has also been a challenge,” Lowery said. “We’ve managed to maintain a profitable managed services business during this growth period. However, that has made staffing run very thin at times when expansion of the customer base has not perfectly correlated with increases in staff coverage.”
One of the biggest obstacles for Fraser Advanced Imaging Systems of West Reading, PA, was in coming up with the appropriate contract language and service level agreements while minimizing contract creep, according to Melissa Confalone, vice president of sales.
“It took us a while to understand the importance of sticking to our stack,” she said. “We listened to best practices of others having success in our industry and put those into practice with our business.”
As Usherwood Office Technology of Syracuse, NY, has grown its service complement, which includes managed print, managed IT, video and security, it has spent countless hours developing and documenting its processes. Lou Usherwood, company president, cautions against digging in one’s heels on the basis of process tradition.
“Your biggest enemy is the sentiment that ‘we have always done it this way,’” he added. “Often times, it is difficult to understand how you compare to other companies that are similar, so for Usherwood, we have always found the time to join best practice groups through the industries in which we exist.”
KDI Office Technology of Aston, PA, had the benefit of logging many years in providing contracts and break/fix services, thus the move to a recurring model was not as difficult, states Greg Bryan, chief technology officer. While it takes time to convert break/fix clients to the MSP model to go with net new clients, the process can ramp fairly quickly, he said.
One of the biggest challenges for Nashville, TN-based NovaCopy—which counts MPS and managed IT among itsmanaged service arsenal—was in not adequately calculating the costs entailed in having service reps making in-person visits on a regular basis. That delayed the dealer’s path to profitability. “The cost to send someone out to plug a router back in because the customer couldn’t figure it out on his own is just huge,” Kilton noted. “Especially if you have multiple customers you’re dealing with on a regular basis. For us, it was not profitable right out of the gate.”
“The cost to send someone out to plug a router back in because the customer couldn’t figure it out on his own is just huge,” Kilton noted. “Especially if you have multiple customers you’re dealing with on a regular basis. For us, it was not profitable right out of the gate.”